The title for this post comes from a line in Dr. Crazy's most recent post that cracked me up: she comments that she wishes she could remember where she put her watch, and then says, "This is a bullet of blogging the lost." I can't pinpoint why, but I LOVE that line.
In any case, this is a post of blogging the lost, the lost in this case being my motivation. I do not want to do the things I should be doing, and I've reached the point where if I don't want to do something, I just don't do it. Sometimes I feel like there's so much in my life that I HAVE to do, that it makes it really really hard to do the things I SHOULD do, because I've used up all my determination and focus on getting through the HAVE-tos.
For instance, I'm feeling burnt out about teaching. Don't get me wrong, I still think teaching is incredibly important and that my students deserve my taking it seriously. I still believe, in an kind of abstract, theoretical way, in all my pedagogical principles. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of planning class day-to-day, I find myself much more concerned by what will fill up the hour than by what will really help the students learn or make progress toward the course's goals. I want to get through the teaching, rather than actually to do it.
Ironically, my classes this semester are going pretty well. This is ironic not in the sense that "see how well my classes go when I blow things off!" but in the sense that, "whatever's behind this, I can't blame my classes/students/their performance." So the burnout is not connected to my particular students this semester - I've had far worse groups before (and while I've dreaded teaching them, at least I knew it was because of classroom dynamics!). In fact, one class especially is truly lovely, with engaged, talkative, congenial students who seem to be doing lovely things with the material. This class I can usually expect to enjoy. A second class is also really very good, not quite as stellar as the first, but reliably prepared, conversational, and insightful. (The third class - well, it's a very different demographic, and I find myself bored. Just plain bored. A colleague of mine made me feel better about that today, that it's not just because I put together a boring class - though of course that might be part of it! - but that the demographics of these particular courses are especially difficult. Again, the students are generally lovely - there aren't any problem children or anything - and some of them are very very good. And I try to focus on this to have a good attitude - but I have to confess, the class doesn't excite me. But while some of that may be them, the greater part of it, I suspect, is me.)
So, on the one hand I'm enjoying my classes, but on the other, boy, do I just want to get them over with. Which is not a feeling I enjoy or approve of. But it's there.
Of course, I do have to remind myself that if I had stayed at Rural Utopia, I would be on my sabbatical right now. Perhaps there really is a good reason behind those things.
Beyond my teaching, though, I have not TOUCHED my research since turning in various third-year review things in January. (And yes, I think there's a connection, and in fact, I think that third-year review drove my motivation away, but eh, there's not much I can do about that now.) This is clearly a problem. I have an essay revision to complete, I have a book proposal to finish, I have a conference paper to write (largely from scratch - new material!), and oh yeah, I have a book manuscript to wrangle into shape. And what do I do? Come home, play on the internet, watch TV, and stay up too late. (Which is what I'm doing now, except I turned off the TV - the first step actually to getting my ass in bed.) I was so proud of myself last semester for working regularly, consistently, even if it was only 30 minutes a day, on my research. I thought I had this whole writing thing whipped - I knew how to balance the teaching/service and research - I had it ALL figured out.
And um, yeah, here I am again.
So I'm blogging this to try to kickstart my motivation (well, perhaps to FIND it first). Tomorrow is another day, as the saying goes, and presents another fresh start. My class prep for tomorrow is relatively minimal. So I will get up and start the day with at least 20 minutes of essay revision, putting it first, before anything else. And cross my fingers that it's like riding a bicycle - that once I start, I will remember again how I do this.